While the Yankees will have a busy even challenging year with the additional media attention Hideki Matsui brings with him from Japan, the Red Sox are second to nobody when it comes to media frenzy. In fact, although the Sox are comprised mainly of reserved stars like Nomar Garciaparra (who felt the heat late last summer in the local papers), and Manny (puff-puff-pass) Ramirez, not to mention stand-up-guys like Trot Nixon, Derek Lowe and Jason Varitek, they have shown more signs of being like the old Bronx Zoo over the past few seasons than their counterparts in New York.
Superduperstar pitcher Pedro Martinez, never one to keep his feelings to himself, started the ball rolling last week.
About the only thing that is diminutive about Martinez is his body. Pedro’s talent, and his mouth will never be mistaken for being small. Prince P ripped his club in an interview with El Diario from his home in the Dominican. Bill Burt from the Eagle Tribune offered a translation:
On his contract status with the Red Sox:
“If the Red Sox don’t sign me to a contract before the end of spring training, I will become a free agent … They’ve had a lot of time. After (spring training), I will not sign a contract with the Red Sox.”
Translation for the Red Sox: “I know that you know that I know there’s a team option in there that means I can’t go anywhere until 2005, but I like scaring my fans for their support.”
On watching pitcher Bartolo Colon go to the White Sox instead of Boston: “I don’t like that. I wanted him in Boston. If we want to win, we need another big-time pitcher and Bartolo would have given us the push we need.”
Translation for Red Sox: “Fossum can’t carry Colon’s jockstrap.”
On losing Ugueth Urbina to free agency:
“We need a closer. Derek Lowe needs a closer. We both trusted in Urbina and I can’t trust someone else to do the job in the future … Urbina was the right man for the job.”
Translation for Red Sox: “This closer-by-committee stuff is for the birds. Get a closer, now!”
The Dominican press also reported that Pedro has fired his agent and will do his own negotiating.
“I was very uncomfortable with the way they handled my business so I have fired them,” said Pedro, whose old agent’s firm was bought by another sports marketing company. “They didn’t tell me they were going to sell (the firm) … I am prepared to sit down and negotiate with any team and to sign my next contract.”
Martinez also said, “It is not my intention to be the highest paid player in baseball. I just want to be recognized for what I’ve done in the business.”
Let’s just say, it’s going to be interesting when Pedro arrives in Fort Myers for pitchers and catchers workouts in mid-February. Stay tuned.
MORE ON MILLAR
The convoluted matter is out of the Red Sox’ hands. Major League Baseball interceded and ruled that the Red Sox could not cut a deal with the Japanese team, which signed the righthanded hitter to a two-year, $6 million contract after purchasing him from the Florida Marlins. The Marlins placed him on major league waivers, a prerequisite to completing the deal, and typically a mere formality. But breaking with protocol, the Sox claimed Millar. When he rejected the claim, he became a free agent. The Sox hoped to compensate Chunichi for the $1.2 million they had paid the Marlins, then sign Millar to a Boston contract.
The player enthusiastically embraced that idea, but MLB informed the Red Sox that Millar had to honor his contract with Chunichi. For Millar to play for the Sox under those circumstances, he would have to ”post” for free agency, much like Ichiro Suzuki did before signing with the Seattle Mariners. Teams then would submit sealed bids to Chunichi for the right to negotiate with Millar, giving all clubs the same access to Millar as the Sox, at a price likely to be higher than the Sox are willing to pay.
The only way Millar can circumvent that process is if he can demonstrate that he does not have a valid contract with Chunichi, an avenue his agents were pursuing, according to one source familiar with the proceedings. The Red Sox are not involved in that process.
Ed Cosstte, over at Bambino’s Curse noted:
This doesn’t come as much surprise, really. While I joined in the chorus calling Epstein’s moves to get Millar “shrewd,” in the back of my mind it did sound like some dirty dealing, like they weren’t really treating the Japanese team as a business equal. On the other hand, MLB doesn’t particularly stand out in my mind as a group who puts business ethics high on its list of priorities. The way they’ve managed the Expos since taking over the owner’s role seems pretty shady to me. Indeed, they should begin to tilt the E in Expos to more resemble the crooked E in the Enron logo.
In addition, the Red Sox are close to signing former Twins first baseman David Ortiz, according to the Boston Globe:
Ortiz…passed a physical in Boston Saturday and has agreed to a one-year deal for a sum in the vicinity of $1 million. Ortiz, a lefthanded hitter, batted .272 with 32 doubles, 20 home runs, and 75 RBIs last season for the Twins, numbers comparable to those posted by Daubach. But with Daubach arbitration-eligible, the Sox elected to sign the 27-year-old Ortiz, who was released by the Twins in December.
YOU DON’T SEND ME FLOWERS…
Sean McDonough, son of the late Will McDonough wrote a tribute to his father and his supporters, in the Globe over the weekend.
In his Sunday Notes column, Gordon Edes noted:
At the memorial for Globe columnist Will McDonough at the FleetCenter last week, a floral arrangement from Steinbrenner occupied a position of prominence in front of the casket, with another from the Yankees nearby. The Red Sox also sent two arrangements, from Lucchino and Henry, that weren’t positioned quite so near. Leave it to McDonough, who had sharply criticized Lucchino in his [second to] last column, to find a way to make a final editorial comment …